Westport DTC Rules (By-laws)

Westport
Democratic Town
Committee Rules
(Amended March 23, 2016.)

Article I – Purposes
The Westport Democratic Town Committee is a body of members elected by and representing the registered Democratic voters of the Town of Westport as the duly constituted organization of the Democratic Party in Westport for the following purposes:

A. To perform the functions, and exercise the powers, conferred upon Town Committees and Party Committees of the Democratic Party by law and State Party rules, including, without limitation, the selection of party-endorsed candidates for municipal offices and delegates to state and district conventions of the Democratic Party of Connecticut, and the adoption and amendment of local party rules;

B. To guide the policies, and define and express the positions, of the Democratic Party in Westport;

C. To support the principles of the State and National Democratic Parties;

D. To promote the candidacies of the nominees of the Democratic Party for municipal, district, state, and national elective public office;

E. To provide for Democratic election campaigns in Westport in support of these nominees; and

F. To ensure all Westport Democrats the opportunity to participate fully in the electoral process; by affording them information and assistance in the exercise of their voting rights.

Article II – Policies

Section 1: All meetings of the Westport Democratic Town Committee (hereafter , the “Town Committee”) shall be open to all members of the public.

Section 2: The time and place for all public meetings of the Town Committee shall be publicized in such a manner as to assure timely notice to all interested persons. Such meetings shall be held in places accessible to all Party members and large enough to accommodate all interested persons.

Section 3: The Town Committee shall publicize in such manner as to assure notice to all interested parties a full description of the legal and practical procedures for selection of Town Committee officers and representatives. Publication of these procedures shall be done in such fashion that all prospective and current members of the Democratic Town Committee will be fully and adequately informed of the pertinent procedures of the Democratic Town Committee organization.

Article III – Election of Town Committee

Section 1: The Town Committee shall consist of no fewer than 50 and no more than 70 members who shall be apportioned among the Representative Town Meeting districts of Westport (hereafter “RTM Districts”) based upon the relative numbers of enrolled Democratic electors in each RTM District whose names appear on the enrollment list of the Democratic Party for the last general election in the Town of Westport. Candidates for membership to the Town Committee may seek the party endorsement of the Democratic Party at a caucus called for that purpose in even numbered years in accordance with the rules of the Democratic Party of the State of Connecticut, as amended from time to time. The number of candidates for election to the Town Committee selected at a party caucus shall be no more than the number of Town Committee members apportioned among the RTM Districts.
Section 2: In the event no party endorsement is made, or an individual seeks election to the Town Committee without party endorsement, election to the Town Committee shall be made by direct primary in accordance with the rules of the Democratic Party of the State of Connecticut, as amended from time to time. No person shall be elected to or shall hold the position of Town Committee Member unless the candidate’s name appears on the current enrollment list of the Democratic Party in the RTM District in which he or she seeks election.

Section 3: To nominate candidates to run in a direct primary for election as Town Committee members from any RTM District, the nominating petition must:
1. be signed by twenty (20) persons whose names appear on the last completed enrollment list of the Democratic Party in such RTM District or 5% of persons whose names appear on such list, whichever is less; and
2. in all other aspects, including time of filing, conform to these requirements of the State Election Law and the Democratic Party of the State of Connecticut for petitions for primaries for election of Town Committee members.

Section 4: Unless otherwise designated by State Election Law or State Party rules, the first Tuesday in March is hereby designated Primary Day for the election of the Town Committee Members.

Section 5: Candidates for Town Committee Members chosen as provided in Section 1 above shall run in the Primary for Town Committee as party-endorsed candidates provided such candidates shall be elected as Members of the Town Committee if no valid opposing candidacy has been filed by four o’clock on the twenty-first (21st) day preceding the day of the Democratic primary for Town Committee members.

Section 6:Members of the Town Committee shall serve for a term of two (2) years, commencing on the day following the day established for holding the primary for election of said Town Committee Members and ending on the day established for the holding of the primary for the election of the Members of the succeeding Town Committee. The provisions of this section shall apply notwithstanding the lack of cause for a primary to elect said Members.

Section 7: The Town Committee, at a meeting called for that purpose, may, by a majority vote of those present and voting, increase or decrease its membership to no more than seventy (70) nor less than fifty (50) members. Provided that all members shall be duly elected and begin their term on the day following the day established for the holding of the primary for the election of the members of the succeeding Town Committee.

Section 8. After the holding of the primary for election of the Town Committee, and upon recommendation by the Executive Committee, any vacant Town Committee seats may be deemed “at large” and filled without regard to district boundaries.

Section 9. The Town Committee, at a meeting duly noticed, may, by a majority vote of those present and voting, fill any vacant Town Committee seat. Such Members will serve the remaining term ending on the day established for the holding of the primary for the election of the Members of the succeeding Town Committee.

Section 10. The Chair, at a meeting duly noticed, may, by a majority vote of those present and voting, appoint Democrats from organizations affiliated with either the State or National Democratic Party, to serve as ex officio members of the Town Committee during its current term.

Article IV – Officers

Section 1: Within thirty (30) days after the day fixed for the holding of a primary election, the Members-elect of the Town Committee shall meet for organization and shall elect a Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer. The Chair of the Town Committee in office immediately prior to the day of said primary shall call said organizational meeting. If such Chair fails, for any reason, to call such organizational meeting within the period prescribed, it shall be the duty of the Vice Chair serving concurrently with said Chair to do so within forty-eight (48) hours. If such Vice Chair fails, for any reason, to call such organizational meeting, it shall be the duty of the State Central Committee members who represent Westport to call such organizational meeting within forty-eight 48 hours.

Section 2: The officers of the Town Committee will be elected from within the membership of the Town Committee. In the event that a vote is taken that shall result in a tie, such tie vote shall be resolved by the vote of the Chair of the Town Committee in office immediately prior to the day of said primary, but this provision shall not affect his or her right to cast any vote as a Member of the Town Committee to which he or she is otherwise entitled.

Section 3: Officers so elected shall hold office for the term of the Town Committee electing them or until their successors have been elected.

Section 4: Each officer shall have the duties usually incident to his or her office and such other duties as the Town Committee may from time to time prescribe.

Section 5: Within one month after organization of the Town Committee, the Secretary shall file with the Secretary of the Democratic State Central Committee a list of the names and addresses of the officers and members of the Town Committee and the name of the Democratic Registrar of Voters.

Section 6: The members representing each RTM District shall elect at the organizational meeting one individual (hereafter “District Leader”) from among themselves.

Section 7: In the event of a vacancy in any office of the Town Committee, the Executive Committee shall nominate a candidate to fill such vacancy, which nomination shall be duly noticed and considered and voted upon by the full Town Committee or by the members in the affected District, whichever the case may be, at the next regularly scheduled DTC meeting or a special meeting called for such purpose.

Article V – Meetings

Section 1: The Town Committee shall meet at least four (4) times a year.

Section 2: Special meetings of the Town Committee may be called by the Chair or upon written request signed by two-fifths (2/5) of the members of the Town Committee and presented to the Chair. Upon the decision of the Chair to call a special meeting or upon receipt of such written request the Chair shall promptly instruct the Secretary to give at least five (5) days, but not more than fifteen (15) days in advance of the special meeting notice of the time, place and purpose of such meeting to all members of the Town Committee and to publicize such meeting in accordance with the principles described in Article II above.

Section 3: Two-fifths (2/5ths) of the membership of the Town Committee shall constitute a quorum. All votes, except as otherwise provided herein, shall be decided by a majority of those present and voting. Section 4: Robert’s Rules of Order (newly revised) shall be construed as applicable, controlling and conclusive on parliamentary issues, except as herein otherwise provided.

Section 5: The use of secret ballots, or any form of secret voting is prohibited for any vote being held at a Town Committee meeting.

Article VI – Committees

Section 1: The Chair of the Town Committee shall appoint the members of two standing committees: the Finance and Nominating committees. The Chair shall be able to create additional Ad Hoc committees, provided that such Ad Hoc committees shall not usurp the duties of the Standing committees established herein. The chair shall be a member of all committees.
(a) Executive Committee: The Executive Committee shall aid in clarifying the Westport Democratic Party’s position on relevant issues, campaigns, platforms, and other matters. The officers of the Town Committee and all District Leaders shall be members of the Executive Committee. The Chair shall chair the Executive Committee.
(b) Finance Committee: The Finance Committee shall have the responsibility for fund raising to meet Town Committee expenses and to report regularly to the members of the Town Committee on the finances of the Town Committee. The Treasurer of the Town Committee shall chair the Finance Committee.
(c) Nominating Committee: The Nominating Committee shall recruit, screen and select candidates to be nominated for election or to fill vacancies in town offices, boards, commissions and the Town Committee. The Nominating Committee in its discretion may invite other Democratic members of the boards or commissions for which a candidate is to be nominated or on which a vacancy exists to participate in its activities. The Committee shall present the name of each candidate nominated or selected to fill a vacancy to the Town Committee. The Nominating Committee shall consist of at least five (5) but not more than nine (9) members, at least five (5) of whom shall be members of the Executive Committee.

Section 2: All meetings of any committee of the Town Committee shall be open to the public, provided, however, that by three-fourths (3/4) vote of the voting members of such committee present at any such meeting, attendance of nonvoting persons at all or any part of such meeting may be restricted.

Section 3: In the case of a selection of a candidate to fill a Democratic vacancy on a town board or commission, the Chair of the Town Committee shall recommend in writing the name of the Democratic candidate selected pursuant to Article VIII, Section 12, below, to fill such vacancy to the appointing authority.

Article VII – Duties and Obligations

Section 1. Membership in the Town Committee constitutes a firm commitment to the Democratic Party and its principles. This commitment shall be fulfilled by:

1 Attendance at regular and special Town Committee meetings;
2 Participation in fundraising activities; and
3 Participation in election related and party-building activities, including but not limited to phone-banking and canvassing activities.

Section 2. It is mandatory that each member of the Town Committee attend at least one half (1/2) of the Town Committee meetings. Extenuating circumstances will be recognized by the Executive Committee.

Section 3. At the end of each calendar year, the Executive Committee shall advise any member who has not fulfilled his or her commitment as set forth in Sections 1 and 2 of this Article that he or she will have to meet those requirements in the following year to remain eligible for re-endorsement by the Westport Town Committee. At the end of the term, the Executive Committee may recommend that any member who has not fulfilled his or her requirements not be endorsed by the Westport Town Committee for re-election.

Section 4. No member of the Town Committee shall publicly endorse or take any public action which may be construed as an endorsement of any candidate for public or town office who is not the party-endorsed candidate for said office. Any member of the Town Committee who violates this section may be subject to a vote of censure by a majority of the Town Committee present and voting at a meeting properly called for the purpose.

Article VIII – Endorsement of Candidates, Nomination of Municipal Officers and Selection of Delegates

Section 1. The Town Committee, at a meeting called for the purpose, shall, by a majority vote of the Town Committee members present and voting, select party-endorsed candidates for each municipal office.

Section 2. The enrolled members of the Democratic Party in the municipality at a caucus called for the purpose shall, by a plurality vote of those present and voting, select party-endorsed candidates for the Town Committee. Notice of the time, place and purpose of said caucus shall be given to all enrolled Democratic voters of the municipality at least five (5) days, but not more than fifteen (15) days in advance of the caucus by publication of the same in a newspaper having general circulation in the town of Westport and by posting the same in the town hall.

Section 3. The Town Committee, at a meeting called for the purpose, shall select delegates to conventions. The selection of delegates to any convention shall be by nomination of a slate or by nominations of individual candidates equal to the number of delegates to which the town is entitled under the state rules of the Democratic Party. All nominees must be a duly enrolled party member.

Section 4. Candidates for municipal office chosen as provided in Section 1 above shall run in the primary for such office as party-endorsed candidates, provided any such candidate shall be the nominee of the Democratic Party for the office for which he or she is a candidate if no valid opposing candidacy has been filed for nomination to such office by four o’clock on the twenty-first (21st) day preceding the day of the Democratic primary for such office.

Section 5. If for any reason the Town Committee fails to make sufficient endorsements of candidates for municipal office or selection of delegates to conventions, State Party Rules should be used.

Section 6. The secretary and the chairperson or presiding officer of the Town Committee or caucus, as the case may be, shall certify to the Town Clerk the names and street addresses of the party-endorsed candidates and delegates selected as provided in Sections 3 and 5 above, the title of the office or position as delegate for which each person is endorsed or selected, and where appropriate, the date upon which the primary is to be held. In the case of the endorsement of a person for an office for whom only the electors of an RTM District may vote, the secretary of the Town Committee shall certify to the Town Clerk the name or number of such RTM District.

Section 7. Each party endorsement of a candidate to run in a primary for the nomination of candidates for municipal office shall be made not earlier than the fifty-sixth (56th) day nor later than the forty-ninth (49th) day preceding the day of the primary and shall be certified to the clerk of the municipality, by the chairperson or presiding officer and secretary of the Town Committee not later than the forty-eighth (48th) day preceding the day of the primary, or as otherwise set by State Election law or State Party rules.

Section 8. Each selection of delegates to a state or district convention shall be made not earlier than the one-hundred-fortieth (140th) day and not later than the one-hundred-thirty-third (133rd) day preceding the day of the primary for such state or district office, and shall be certified to the Town Clerk by the presiding officer and Secretary of the Caucus not later than the one-hundred-thirty-second (132nd) day preceding the day of the primary, or as otherwise set by State Election law or State Party rules.

Section 9. In the event that a vote taken on the selection of a party-endorsed candidate or delegate results in a tie, such tie vote shall be resolved by the vote of the Chair of the Town Committee, but this provision shall not affect the Chair’s right to cast any vote as a member of the Town Committee to which he or she is otherwise entitled. The Chair cannot, however, after voting as a member of the Town Committee, vote again to resolve a tie.

Section 10. Each delegate to a convention selected in conformity with these rules may in writing designate an alternate delegate or a proxy to act for him or her in his or her absence.

Section 11. If a party-endorsed candidate for nomination to a municipal office prior to twenty-four (24) hours before the opening of the polls at the primary, dies, or, prior to ten (10) days before the day of the primary, withdraws his or her name from nomination, or for any reason becomes disqualified to hold the office or position for which he or she is a candidate, an endorsement may be made to fill such vacancy by the Town Committee, by a majority of the Town Committee members present and voting, at a meeting called for that purpose. The chairperson of the Town Committee may cast a vote on such endorsement to break a tie, but this provision shall not affect his or her right to cast any vote as a member of the Town Committee to which he or she is otherwise entitled. The corresponding secretary of the Town Committee shall immediately certify the endorsement to fill such vacancy to the Democratic Registrar of Voters. No candidate shall be deemed to have withdrawn until a letter of withdrawal signed by such candidate is filed with the municipal clerk.

Section 12. Whenever the Town Committee is officially notified that a Democratic Party vacancy exists in an elective Town office, the Town Committee shall, by a majority vote of members present at a meeting called for that purpose, endorse a single candidate to fill that Town office, and cause that endorsement to be submitted to the proper Town official in timely fashion.

Section 13. As used in these rules, “municipal office” means any office for which only the electors of the RTM Districts may vote and includes the office of each elective public official of the town.

Article IX – Caucuses

Section 1: Caucuses may be called for any lawful purpose by a majority of the Town Committee or by not less than five percent (5%) of the registered Democratic voters whose names appear on the last completed enrollment list of the Democratic party in the Town. The call for any such caucus shall be in writing. If it is called by a vote of the Town Committee, it shall be signed by the Chair of the Town Committee. If it is called by not less than five percent (5%) of the registered Democratic voters, it shall be signed by each of the persons so calling the same.

Section 2: Notice of time, place and purpose of any such caucus shall be given to all registered Democratic voters of the Town at least five (5) days, but no more than fifteen (15) days in advance, of any such caucus by publishing such notice at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town and by posting such notice on the public sign post.

Section 3: The Chair shall be the Chair of all caucuses, unless he or she requests that he or she be temporarily excused to take the floor, in which event he or she may appoint a temporary chair. The Secretary of the Town Committee shall act as Secretary at all caucuses, unless he or she requests that he or she be temporarily excused to take the floor, in which event he or she may appoint a temporary secretary.

Article X – Primaries: Nominations to Office and Election of Committee Members and Delegates

Section 1. The nominations of the Democratic Party to all offices and the election of members of the Town Committee shall be made in all respects as provided in the State Party Rules, as the same may be amended from time to time.

Section 2. Whenever a primary for nomination to a municipal office or election of Town Committee members is to be held, the nominee of the Democratic Party for such office and the members of the Town Committee shall be determined by a plurality of votes cast.

Section 3. If a nomination has been made for a municipal office and the nominee thereafter but prior to twenty-four (24) hours before such opening of the polls on the day of the election for which such nomination has been made, dies, withdraws his or her name, or for any reason becomes disqualified to hold the office or position for which he or she has been nominated, a nomination to fill such vacancy may be made by the Town Committee, by a majority of the Town Committee members present and voting, at a meeting called for that purpose. The chairperson of the Town Committee may cast a vote on such endorsement to break a tie, but this provision shall not affect his or her right to cast any vote as a member of the Town Committee to which he or she is otherwise entitled. In the case of a withdrawal, said nomination shall not be valid until the candidate who has withdrawn has filed a letter of withdrawal signed by such candidate with the Secretary of the State and also has filed a copy with the municipal clerk. The chairperson of the Town Committee shall certify the nomination to fill such vacancy to the Secretary of the State, and shall file a copy with the municipal clerk. Such certifications of a nomination to fill a vacancy due to death or disqualification shall include a statement setting forth the reason for such vacancy.

Article XI – Amendments

Section 1: The Town Committee may amend these rules by a majority vote of its entire membership at a regular or special meeting called that purpose. These rules may also be amended by a caucus of enrolled party members called by the Chair of the Town Committee or upon the filing of a petition signed by at least five (5) percent, but not more than five hundred (500) enrolled party members with the Democratic Registrar of Voters. The Chair, or in the event of his or her failure to act, the Vice Chair, shall call such caucus to take action on said petition within twenty (20) days upon filing of said petition with the Democratic Registrar of Voters.

Article XII – Filing of Local Rules

A copy of these rules, or any amendments thereof, shall be filed with the Town Clerk, the Secretary of the State and the secretary of the Democratic State Central Committee within thirty (30) days after adoption by the Democratic Party in the Town of Westport. These rules or any amendments to these rules shall not be effective until sixty (60) days after the filing of the same with the Secretary of the State, and shall be deemed to cover the operations of the Democratic Party in the Town of Westport until such time as the party adopts a rule or amendment on the same subject matter, consistent with these rules and the State Party Rules.

Article XIII – Conflict with Laws

If any provision of these rules is found to be in conflict with the provisions of the State Party Rules, the provisions of the State Party Rules shall govern. The nominations of the Democratic Party to all public offices and the election of Town Committee Members and delegates to conventions shall be made in all respects as provided in the State Party Rules, as amended.

Conclusion

The above revised and amended Rules governing the Democratic Party of the Town of Westport were approved at a duly noticed meeting of the Democratic Town Committee on March 23, 2016.